Nokia's Updated N95 for North America

The original Nokia N95 was a very high profile handset because it offered most every feature available in a mobile phone at the time: 3G HSDPA connectivity, a 5 megapixel auto-focus camera, a built-in GPS receiver, and 802.11b/g WiFi support. Add to that to a large QVGA display, and a slick dual-slide form factor, and it is pretty easy to understand why it was, and remains, such a big deal.

But in spite of its successes, the N95 suffered from a couple of misses as well. One issue, its lack of battery life due to high-drain components like its GPS and WiFi modules, was an issue for all of the world's markets. Similarly, many users across the globe managed to bump their heads on the somewhat small amount of application RAM on the device. The other lacking for the N95, one which applied only to North American users, was the N95's lack of 3G support for the 850 and 1900MHz network bands. Europeans were able to enjoy the original N95's HSDPA 3G connectivity on the 2100MHz band used in their part of the world.

When Nokia decided to build a North American version of the N95, they took these shortcomings into consideration. For starters, the N95-3 has twice the application RAM that the original had. Meaning that instead of about 20MB of available RAM for running multiple apps, N95-3 users have roughly 80MB of RAM to work with. That's a 4x increase in usable memory from the user's perspective. Nokia also reconfigured the device to use the 850 and 1900MHz 3G bands so that North American users can enjoy HSDPA data speeds on AT&T's network. Sadly, this still won't help T-Mobile USA users when their carrier starts rolling out its own UMTS network next year, but AT&T users can expect to see a real difference compared to the EDGE speeds they were forced to live with before. Our N95-3's HSDPA connection averaged about 500Kbps on the mobile speed test when transferring 1MB test files. The same test running over our local WiFi network averaged a hair under 2000Kbps, 4 times as fast.

Nokia also tried to address the battery life issues as best they could without changing the physical design of the N95 too much. The technical advances that determine the amount of power that companies can pack into their batteries simply can not keep up with the ever-increasing power drain caused by the new components that people want integrated in their mobiles. If battery technology improves enough to get an additional 10% of power out of the same sized package, you can be sure that the phone designers will add new features that will drain power 20% more quickly. The only way to deal with this problem is to use larger, higher capacity batteries. In the case of the North American N95, the N95-3, this is what Nokia has done.